LIGHTING A LEGACY: GENESIS’ FAREWELL TOUR
Iconic rock band Genesis kicked off their Last Domino tour in Birmingham on 20th September 2021. Their first tour in 14 years will see 37 shows across the UK and North America.
We were delighted to be approached by Creative Director / Lighting Designer Patrick Woodroffe at Woodroffe Bassett to take on the technical design and coordination for the tour. Our most recent collaborations with Woodroffe were on AC/DC’s Rock or Bust tour in 2015, Rolling Stones’ #NoFilter in 2017, Rammstein Tour 2019 and Expo 2020 in Dubai, but Piers and Jeremy’s relationship with Patrick goes back decades.
Not only was the new tour a great opportunity to create an exciting lighting spectacle, it was a chance for Jeremy and Piers to be reacquainted with a team they first worked with all the way back in 1998 on the ‘Calling All Stations’ tour. The pair have been working with Genesis Tour Manager Steve ‘Pud’ Jones and Production Manager Howard Hopkins ever since, and more recently, Jeremy was the Production Designer on Genesis’ last tour, ‘Turn It On Again’, in 2007. Already being well-acquainted with the band’s style and vision, we wanted to deliver a distinctive, sensational show that was unmistakably theirs.
In the ‘80s, Genesis revolutionised live music by pioneering the use of moving lights. In 1980, lighting company Vari-Lite (then called Showco Inc) flew from Dallas, Texas, to England with their first luminaire prototype to show Genesis band members Phil Collins, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford, and manager Tony Smith. Bowled over by the offering and seeing the potential, the band decided to invest in the development of the new system for their next tour, and thus, Genesis’ iconic style was born. Furthermore, luminaires have been used by lighting designers ever since to create high impact rock concerts, events and installations across the globe.
Staying true to Genesis and their vision, we knew there needed to be a huge amount of moving lights. The challenge lay in keeping the design as grand as possible in terms of scale, but modest enough that it could actually be rigged in a venue safely. For an Arena show, it’s as heavy as you can get! We also had to consider the expectations of fans, anticipating a certain level of quality and who had waited over a year for the rescheduled tour. And with rumours it was to be Phil Collins’ last tour with the band, the stakes were even higher to produce an unforgettable, stand out show. Rolling Stone magazine reviewed the tour, saying:
“Genesis have been pushing the boundaries of stage design since their earliest days with Peter Gabriel, and this was a particularly impressive setup with a movable lighting rig that looked like giant dominos, and a screen that showed new animations for many of the songs.”
The initial drawings we received from Patrick and long-time collaborator Roland Greil showed a 60’ x 40’ stage, incorporating a number of columns with LED screens behind. Each column needed to rotate in order to reveal the automated lighting fixtures on the back, and above the stage were a number of pods with lighting fixtures inside. The pods needed to raise and lower to create different looks and shapes, and we installed lighting fixtures between the pods for additional effect.
We collaborated with a large number of suppliers including system technician Ben Phillips to integrate the audio system with the production design and get the best of both worlds with the least compromise possible. We also worked closely with video director Rory McPhee on the LED screens which needed to track and rotate while displaying video. The screens were designed to separate and close or open up completely to add to the dramatic effect.
The result is a tour that manages to combine Genesis’ iconic light displays with unrivalled audio for one last swansong. Jeremy Lloyd, Wonder Works said:
“It was a special one for us, being reunited with the band and crew again after so many years, and all the more satisfying to have helped create an unforgettable show befitting a final farewell.”